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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2003

Thirty-fourth Regular Session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

Ambassador Eric M. Javits, Head of the U.S. Delegation
Opening statement
The Hague, The Netherlands
September 23, 2003

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, distinguished delegates,

I would like to take this opportunity, Mr. Chairman, to welcome you back to the chair. As you well know, a number of exceptional and challenging issues are before the Council this session, to include the traditional annual critical budget issues. There are also a number of requests before the Council this session for extensions to the CWC destruction deadlines. We also note the importance of the work on the Action Plans for National Implementation Measures and Universality. Taken together these issues present us with the prospect of a very busy, but very productive session. I am optimistic that under your capable chairmanship we will take full advantage of the time we have available to complete this important work. To that end, Mr. Chairman, I pledge the full support of my delegation in making this a successful Executive Council meeting.

Since the last Executive Council session we have made progress on the path to fulfilling a key mandate from the Review Conference -- recommending a Plan of Action to the Eighth Conference for ensuring the implementation of Article VII obligations. While the Council still has some work to do, I remain confident that this mandate can be fulfilled. The United States strongly encourages all States Parties to work toward consensus on the Plan of Action before the Council. For its part, the United States continues to promote Article VII compliance through bilateral contacts, responding to States Party inquiries, attending regional workshops, and offering assistance -- upon request -- for fulfilling Article VII obligations. As a further sign of our commitment to achieving compliance with Article VII by all States Parties, the United States has offered an expert to assist the Technical Secretariat, on a cost-free basis, in the development and organization of projects and initiatives in support of National Implementation Measures. I note again, Mr. Chairman, that there will be absolutely no cost to the Technical Secretariat. The United States will pay the salary, per diem, and hotel accommodations for the expert.

Mr. Chairman, with respect to the important issue of the 2004 budget, my government will not be able to support a 9% increase in annual assessed contributions. We are certainly aware of the exceptional circumstances that led the Director-General to request such an increase. We believe, however, that through a careful examination of individual areas of the budget, savings can be identified that will bring the overall increase down to a level that can be reconciled with the budgetary constraints of individual States Parties. Whatís more, we believe we can do so, and indeed must do so, without materially affecting the core activities of the organization and therefore we appreciate the flexibility shown by the Director General in offering to deliver core activities at a lesser rate of increase and we fully support the compromise he has offered which we believe is well-justified. Under your leadership, Mr. Chairman, I am hopeful that consensus can be found at this session.

Mr. Chairman, let me make clear that the United States fully recognizes that it is essential for the OPCW to correct financial problems of the past and ensure that the organization effectively fulfills its mandate in the future. We also realize that additional resources are needed to implement the tenure policy. However, there should be no doubt that the strong support of the United States for the OPCW, manifested by our support for an increased budget, is matched by our commitment to ensuring that States Parties receive the maximum benefit from any budgetary increase.

Mr. Chairman, during yesterdayís informal meeting on chemical weapons destruction, the United States announced that, despite an intense and dedicated effort, we will be unable to meet the treaty-designated deadline for destruction of 45% of our stockpile of Category one chemical weapons and that we had submitted a request for an extension per paragraph 22, part IV of the Verification Annex. Despite this request, I remain optimistic about our demilitarization program. Over this past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to two of our demilitarization sites. My optimism stems directly from these visits. In spite of unforeseen setbacks and obstacles, significant progress is being achieved. By any measure, we are making an all-out effort to eliminate our stockpile of chemical weapons as rapidly as possible. The progress that continues in spite of such setbacks and obstacles is testimony to the U.S. commitment to the convention and our unwavering resolve to meet our responsibilities under it. I note that in making this announcement, the U.S. has stressed transparency. We have explained in detail the status of each of our demilitarization facilities and how each will contribute to meeting the interim 45% deadline. In fact, the Department of Defense has sent a team of experts this week, led by Mr. Patrick Wakefield, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Chemical Demilitarization and Threat Reduction. I invite all of you with questions or concerns to call upon Mr. Wakefield and his team. We will, of course, provide information about our progress to the Council on a recurring basis, as has been our practice all along.

There are also two other countries with requests before the Executive Council for extensions to the CWCís destruction deadlines. In considering these requests, the United States expects transparency, detailed information, and realistic projections for when the deadlines can be met.

Mr. Chairman, these are the highlights -- the priorities if you will -- of the work of this session, as we see them. They represent an ambitious schedule, but are issues that we must tackle and successfully resolve in order to set the stage for a successful conference session in October. We are committed to addressing them seriously and exhaustively and we believe others are of a like mind. With intense, focused effort, we believe we can have a successful session that will contribute to meeting our collective goal of effective, efficient operation of the organization and the complete implementation of the convention and all its provisions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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